Saturday, October 20, 2012

Race Report - Waterman's Half IM

The race was Saturday, so my Friday schedule involved half a day of work, the drive to DC, beltway rush hour traffic and then even more rush hour traffic on 210 as we turned south away from DC into Southern Maryland.  I was not fully ready before I left for work Friday morning, which meant a late start on the drive. That meant we got to General Smallwood Park about 5 minutes after packet pick-up closed on Friday night.  No big deal, I tell myself, it's an eight o'clock start tomorrow, so plenty of time in the morning for sticking stickers.

Off to the Super-8 to check in  and then a quick drive to the local Subway for dinner.  I think I was in bed by 9:00, where I tried to sleep and eat and drink my way through the night.  I picked up the "Feed Zone Cookbook" not long before the race and I was noshing on peanut and chocolate chip rice bars, which I highly recommend as they are excellent.  

Saturday morning came bright dark and early and COLD.  There was a hard frost on the top of the car and I was wearing more of my snowboarding gear than I care to admit.  

Packet pickup went smoothly as did body marking and the other usual prerace obligations.

Other than the cold, It was a lovely day in Indian Head Maryland.

I went off to setup my transition while Cath found a spot outside of the transition area where she could take pictures.  It seemed like we were the only rule followers as transition was somewhat crowded with non-racers.  No big deal I guess.
With my transition setup, it was time to get dressed for the swim.  I can tell you from experience, there is nothing like trying to don a wet suit in 35 degree weather.  It was COLD.  My poor feet were freezing before I even got into the water and they only got worse from there.
Here is a great picture of me getting ready to swim.  Note that I'm wearing a jacket over my wet suit since it's 35 degrees outside!  I was also lucky to have Cath there to take my jacket and shoes back to the car after the start.  Also notice the winter coats and hats in the background.  Like I said, it was cold.
The swim went very well, excellently actually.  I had some trouble with my goggles - they kept filling up with water - so I spent part of the swim with my left eye closed since I did not want to stop and fix the leak.  Finally, I stopped for a second to deal with the leak and got back to swimming in stereo again.  My only issue with the swim is that it was a counterclockwise pattern.  I'm a right-side breather, so the counterclockwise pattern meant that the guide markers were always on my left and thus were hard to see.  Especially so while I was swimming with my left eye closed.  In spite of this I was able to keep the zig-zagging to a minimum and find my way around the course.

Here is a great shot of the swim finish.  At this point, I can't feel my feet and I wonder when I'll be able to feel them again...  Also, I have no explanation for the look on my face other than the fact that I've just spent 45 minutes in 61 degree water on a 35 degree day.
Swim split 00:44:26 which is 34 seconds under my 45 minute goal.  Such a great start!

T1 was pretty empty and I had a prime spot, right on the end of the line of racks.  I moved fast in T1, but I had lots to do and I was struggling somewhat with my poor feet.  Lose the wet suit, add the socks, shoes and helmet.  Quickly spray my legs and arms with sunscreen and I'm off towards the mount line.

T1 split 04:53.  Yikes.  I had no specific goal for the transitions but I wanted to try and be under eight minutes combined.

Here I am running towards the mount line with my bike. (still can't feel my feet)
I did a lot of transition practice in my race preperation and I'm really glad about that.  I don't know if you can see it in the picture or not, but I still have my watch on my wrist and I'm not wearing my bike gloves or arm warmers.  I am wearing my shoes, which I'm sure is slower than not, but I'm not that advanced yet.  Anyway, what I really practiced was switching the watch from my wrist to the handlebar mount and then putting on my gloves while I'm riding.  This went very smoothly today and it got me out of transition quickly!

I don't have any pictures of me on the bike because of the way that the course loop worked.  Maybe I'll by one or two and add them later, maybe not.  Regardless, the bike loop was gorgeous.  Lots of rolling hills and flats and not too much wind.  I did my best to stay in aero position and I also tried to stay on the large chainring as much as possible.  Actually I think I only dropped to the small ring once or twice the whole loop.

I followed my nutrition plan to a T (where does that saying come from?) and finished off about 64 ounces of water.  

Bike split 03:01:18, which is 1:18 slower than my three hour goal.

Here I am in transition after three hours on the bike. (Yikes, I still can't feel my feet)
T2 went much quicker than T1 since I had a lot less to do.  I dropped the helmet and gloves, changed shoes and picked up my sunglasses, water belt, race belt and visor and I was off.

T2 split 01:55.  Yea!  Thus my combined transition time was 06:48 which is well under my eight minute goal.

Here I am starting out on the run; still not feeling my feet.
The run was a lovely two lap, out-and-back setup.  The only thing I was really not prepared for that day was the hills on the run.  Right out of transition there was a nasty steep hill and then there was another, longer hill before mile two.  Most of my run training has been on riverfront trails, which are mostly flat.  Thus, I just was not prepared for the hills.  Guess that's something to work on for next time.

This is me finishing the first lap, and yes, I can finally feel my feet.  They came back after about mile two, at which point I wished they had not come back.  Fortunately, that only lasted for another mile or so and I was back to normal.  My first lap time was almost exactly one hour, so I was still on pace for my overall goal.
Around mile 10 my plan was to try and pickup the pace and lay down a nice kick to the finish line.  I hit the turnaround and then the mile 10 marker and I tried to kick, but I really did not have much of anything left, so I kept one eye on the road and the other on my heart monitor.  Every time the monitor dropped below where I wanted to be, I hit the spurs and tried to speed up - clearly I was having trouble maintaining pace.

I think there is a mental lesson in there somewhere, but I'm still not sure exactly where or what yet.  What I've found on longer runs and rides is that when I daydream or lose focus the time passes much faster, which is good, but that I tend to run/ride slower, which is bad.  That will be an area of future focus and investigation.

Right around mile 12 I finally looked at my watch to see my combined time - 5:48 and change.  Thus, my under six hour goal was still within reach.  I tried to kick even harder and just keep putting one foot in front of the other as fast as I could.

 Here is a short video clip of me running towards the finish line.
Run split - 02:06:49, which is almost 7 minutes slower than my two hour goal, but still fast enough to get the final time I was looking for!

Final Time - 05:59:20. Yea!  40 seconds under my six hour goal!

After the finish I felt fine, but there was a moment or two where I thought I was going to throw up.  I'm not sure why, but it was touch-and-go for a bit there.  Here is a great shot of me, almost but not throwing-up.
Finally, another shot a minute or two later, after I've had a chance to compose myself.  You can see the composure, right...
So overall it was an excellent day.  It was my first try and this distance so everything was a PR, but I actually hit or only just missed every goal I set for myself that day.  I really executed right on plan and man does that feel great.  

A special thanks goes out to Cath, my wonderful wife, who took all of the pictures and video.  Thanks babe, for the pictures and for dealing with my crazy training schedule and for spending all day waiting around for me to swim, ride or run by and wave.  I love you!

So how did your last race go?  Are you happy with your result or just happy that you stood/swam at the starting line?

No comments:

Post a Comment